In the last year, Amaze has made many achievements to advance our strategic priorities: building greater understanding, engagement and acceptance of autism; influencing governments to improve systems and policies for autistic people; and up-skilling the wider community to be more autism friendly.
My personal highlight is our success in being selected by the NDIA to deliver a national autism helpline – Autism Connect.
Autism is the largest disability group within the NDIS, and a disability that is experienced differently by every individual. The need for personalised information and support is vital.
Autism Connect will be a free, expert and confidential one-stop service, offering independent and evidence-based information across all stages of life and a wide range of issues delivered by our highly skilled Autism Advisors.
This new funding ensures Amaze’s tried, tested and trusted service can inform and assist people all over Australia, so they can make empowered choices and stronger community connections.
When I started at Amaze five years ago, I was clear that Amaze would be an organization that was a conduit for autistic people to be heard through their own voices. It is not for Amaze to speak for autistic people. This year, we’ve had autistic people appear in the media and through Spectrospective; work as employees in each of our program areas and on our board; contribute their views and wisdom through our advisory groups, surveys and consultations; and contribute to our submissions to a range of government inquiries.
Engaging autistic people in everything we do, quite simply, makes the work better. Only autistic people can tell us about the experience of being autistic and what needs to change to improve their lives. Every day they teach me more.
Amaze is poised to seize many new challenges into the future, including our expansion into a national landscape. We will do this with autistic people beside us, and guiding us.
I wish you a happy and safe holiday season – see you in 2020!